La Simpatia (Guadalupe, CA)

This very special Mexican (or “Spanish,” as the vintage sign would have it) restaurant¬† has been in Guadalupe since 1944, but had to close down for a few years due to seismic retrofitting and rewiring. Much to our pleasant surprise, it re-opened at the end of 2015.

The Quiroga family has lovingly maintained the original menu and pretty much everything else about the place, including the diner-style counter,¬† the historic range, the napkin holders, and — best of all — “Pancho’s Hideaway” in back.






No doubt, La Simpatia will again be popular as a location for filming movies and TV commercials, as it has in the past. Here’s a scene from the 2001 movie Cowboy Up with Molly Ringwald and Kiefer Sutherland sitting at the counter.


Stagecoach Inn (Garden City, ID)

No new posts here for a while because we hadn’t been able to travel to hunt for them. (On that note, it would be nice to have reader-contributed sightings. If you have any bars to propose, please click on “Our Mission” at the top of the screen, and then use the form there to contact us.)

It’s depressing that, as far as we know, there has been no motion on re-opening San Diego’s Albie’s (featured in our previous post) in a new location. Not that it could ever be quite the same. Fortunately, we have some wonderful news out of Idaho.

The Stagecoach Inn is a steakhouse/cocktail lounge in Garden City that first opened in 1959 and thereafter became a local institution. But the owners ran into financial trouble in 2013, and the business was subsequently shuttered.

While there are few second chances for padded bars, in this case two long-time patrons teamed up with a Boise¬†restaurateur (who also owns the very successful Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro) to revive the Stagecoach Inn, which re-opened in summer 2015. The restaurant was reportedly cleaned, reupholstered, recarpeted, and trimmed in lighter shades of wood than before — but mercifully the changes are subtle. The menu is much as it ever was, too, and getting good reviews.

Upon our visit, signs that it’s 2016 were mercifully hard to detect (and certainly, the taps that the owners have added for serving up local draft beers are most welcome). We did suspect that the bar, which now has a trendy steel top, used to have a wood finish, and that was subsequently confirmed by this Boise Weekly picture of how it used to be. Yet the bar rail still retains its sumptuous padding, and as you’ll see, it’s decorated with a six-shooter at one end.




Albie’s, you’ll live forever in our thoughts

The last-ever weekend at Albie’s Beef Inn was deservedly packed, with everyone from hipsters who just discovered the place a couple of years ago, to couples who’d gotten engaged there decades ago. All were wondering how it could possibly be that one of San Diego’s most historic locales could get put out of business by a short-sighted, stupid, venal landlord.

For everyone who experienced Albie’s, it was pretty much heaven on earth: the atmosphere of a cozy home (OK, the home of your uncle who had the vintage Playboy collection); a welcoming and unpretentious staff; great food made only from fresh ingredients (where did they get those carrots, anyway?); great music; and the celestial tinkle of Fred Graslie’s cocktail shaker. It doesn’t get any better than this.